Saturday, July 5, 2014
In 2004's Hellbent, a muscular half-naked serial killer in devil's horns hunts down a group of five gay friends who attend the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival, slaughtering them as he goes. First-time writer-director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts (a veteran art staff member of a number of mainstream films, including JFK, I Shot Andy Warhol, and Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, as well as producer/first-unit cinematographer for Circuit) crafted a stylish and very visual film that is pure Halloween fun. HellBent is about a young computer expert, Eddie (newcomer Dylan Fergus, who is channeling Smallville's Tom Welling big-time), who is helping solve software problems with the Los Angeles police department (where his sister is a cop). Eddie shot his eye out a couple years ago while in cop school, and so has a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Eddie's dad was an officer who died in the line of duty, and Eddie wants nothing so much as to follow in his father's footsteps. Eddie is handsome, muscular and hunky. But he's also shy, not very confident and a bit lacking in self-esteem due to his glass eye. Consequently, Eddie has a thing for "rough trade."
The film opens with hairy-chested super-hunk Mickey Fike (played by veteran gay indie film actor Sam Levine) and his new trick George (played by the handsome Latino actor Miguel Caballero) goofing off in the woods on Mickey's birthday. They begin to make love in George's car. Mickey leans out the window while George fellates him -- and then WHAMMO! Mickey's head is cut off by a scythe. The terrified George tries to flee in the car, but he, too, is cut down. Eddie learns of the murders the next day (Halloween) while working at the local police station. The desk sergeant asks Eddie to help distribute fliers about the murders in local gay haunts, and Eddie is eager to do some "real" police-work. That afternoon, Eddie dresses for Halloween in his father's old police uniform and then goes out leafletting. He soon spots the hunky motorcyclist Jake (muscular hunk Bryan Kirkwood, whose twin brother Denny Kirkwood is also an actor). Jake's getting a tattoo, and Eddie cruises him in the tattoo parlor. But Jake is dismissive of pretty-boy Eddie, and Eddie soon leaves.
Later, Eddie interrupts his friend Chaz (Latino hunk Andrew Levitas from Psycho Beach Party), who is having a bisexual three-way in his car. Breaking up the mini-orgy, Eddie and Chaz head for the local diner, where young geek-twink Joey (veteran actor Hank Harris) works as a waiter. They also meet up with mega-hunk Tobey (newcomer Matt Phillips) -- a model with a huge dick who has decided to go to the night's Halloween party in drag as a platinum blonde. Chaz is going as a leather-clad cowboy, and Joey's going as a leather-boy in order to attract his unrequited love, a local jock. The four head out, and -- as a joke -- Chaz parks in the local woods at the very spot where the two men were killed the night before. They see a bodybuilder dressed in leather pants and a demon's mask and horns. Thinking he is another party-goer, they taunt him and then think nothing more of it.
Eddie soon spies Jake at the carnival. As he walks off to have a conversation with the biker-hunk, the killer begins to strike... There is a decapitation in a oddly deserted bathroom, a public disemboweling on the dance floor that leads to a near-riot (although, oddly, no police are called and no one else at the carnival seems to notice the fleeing, screaming, terrified crowd). The killer then begins to stalk Eddie, the lone surviving member of the night's massacre -- who is blissfully unaware that his friends are cold meat. Eddie goes home with Jake, who ties him down on the bed...
The film was roundly criticized for making gay men look like sluts and whores, and for never explaining where the killer came from or what his motivation was. I didn't mind that, although I thought some of the stereotypical characters were bit a too much.
Andrew Levitas plays Tobey....and no, he doesn't survive.
Gay punk rocker Nick Name aka Kent James plays the unnamed serial killer.